Janice Dean, senior meteorologist at Fox News, has added to her substantial book oeuvre with Make Your Own Sunshine: Inspiring Stories of People Who Find Light in Dark Times. As the title suggests, the book spotlights the people behind extreme acts of goodwill, such as a teen who outfitted dogs in bow ties to help them get adopted, a 5th grade teacher who offered free haircuts to students before their moving-on ceremony, and a FedEx driver who sanitized a box before delivering it to a family with an at-risk daughter.
There has, of course, been plenty of doom and gloom around the nation, and world, across the past year-plus. Much of the goodwill in the book happens during the pandemic era. Make Your Own Sunshine makes a serious effort to restore readers’ faith in humanity.
Some stories in Make Your Own Sunshine stick with the reader after the book is put down. In “Principal Wallace”, a high school principal in North Carolina visited his graduating seniors, one by one, in the midst of the pandemic, and presented each with a personalized yard sign celebrating their graduation. His caravan visited 220 students and covered 485 square miles.
“It’s an old saying that when you plant the seeds of a tree, it’s 30 years before you would get to enjoy the shade that it produces,” Principal Tabari Wallace told Dean. “And I would advise all the students, not just the class of 2020 but everybody, that even though you’re in a different environment, you’re not at the school, you’re not without your friends, this is short-term. And we will get through this.”
The chapter “Ray of Light” is about Ray Pfeifer, a New York firefighter who fought on behalf of first responders from Sept. 11 suffering from cancer. Pfeifer pushed for guaranteed medical care for those first responders, and to get 32 “family vans” into the FDNY, used to transport firefighters and EMTs and their families to doctor and hospital visits, before he died of cancer that was attributed to his work at Ground Zero.
Another one, called “Sometimes Your Last Chance is Just the Beginning,” is about Liz Smith, the director of nursing at a Massachusetts hospital--a single woman ends up adopting a baby she sees in the hospital, who was born premature to a mother battling drug addiction.
“She was at this critical point,” said Smith. “So I said, ‘Well, I’ll do it.’ And at that point, the state was still working with her birth parents for reunification. But it didn’t matter to me. I was like, ‘This little girl needs me right now, and I need her, and we’re gonna do this.’”
Dean, morning meteorologist on Fox & Friends, has a bunch of books to her name, including Mostly Sunny: How I Learned to Keep Smiling Through the Rainiest Days, and her Freddy the Frogcaster children’s series.
The writing in Make Your Own Sunshine is smooth and the upbeat stories are consumed easily, leaving the reader a wee bit happier than they were before picking up the book.
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